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To make a long story short, I was fired last week from my software engineering job for repeatedly coming in to work late (9:30 instead of 9). Today my boss called me to say that he feels he made a huge mistake based on the productivity loss overall, and he'd really like me to come back. He already offered to let me come in anytime before 10 AM. I'm thinking of going back to make some more money before the end of my apartment lease in August, after which I'm planning to move across the country anyway and I'll quit then. It'll also look better in my applications to new jobs to already be employed, or so I hear.

I was making $25/hour before this, how much of a raise would be reasonable to ask for? I'm thinking of saying $35/hour plus back pay for the days I didn't work. What would you recommend?

closed as off-topic by gnat, motosubatsu, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Anketam, Monica Cellio Mar 19 at 22:00

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  • 1
    Possible duplicate of How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for? – gnat Mar 19 at 5:16
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    I don't think this is a duplicate @gnat as there is a different angle with the being fired part. – DasDave Mar 19 at 8:07
  • Some more context about the size of you company/team, how long you've been working there etc would be useful. Some info about how hard you need this job (or the salary coming with it) until August would also help. – Laurent S. Mar 19 at 10:22
  • Is the boss honest? Honesty will have a big impact on the negotiation and what stance you should adopt. – P. Hopkinson Mar 19 at 14:53
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    Welcome to The Workplace. We can't give you a specific number (see the notice under your question for more info), and anyway answering such a question would require much more information about you, the job, the company, your location, etc. Please check out the "how to determine a fair salary" question linked in an earlier comment. I didn't mark this as a duplicate because the situations are somewhat different; feel free to ask a new question about how to determine and negotiate a fair salary in your situation. Thanks. – Monica Cellio Mar 19 at 22:03

11 Answers 11

48

You don't mention how much you are relying on this work or what you would do if you didn't go back, so it is hard to answer this question.

I think a big question here is do you want to be hired back?

If you would want to be hired back and not burn any bridges, I would ask for at most a 20% raise. 40% is a pretty huge raise. Your boss may very well be offended by you asking that big of a raise. While it depends on your situation, your chances of actually getting it are pretty low. You are already saying you are planning on quitting, so unless it will help you get a higher salary at your next place, it is likely not worth it to press that hard.

If you don't really want to go back, and you are sort of just doing it since you are being asked, and you would like the conditions to be better, then asking 40% is fine. If he isn't willing to pay, then you won't be rehired, but you aren't really relying on it either way, so it doesn't matter.

Base your decision on what you actually want to do, and don't assume that you are now immune to being rejected.

  • 5
    Its not so much 40%, its that its 10 dollars an hour. If he earnt 150 dollars and asked for a 8% raise, the difference would be the same. I would definitely go for $35. He has the position of strength. – vikingsteve Mar 19 at 13:46
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    $25 for a tech job in the US, pretty much anywhere at any skill level, is underpaid. Its about what I was paid for five years outside of Philadelphia and it wasn't until I left that I learned just how low my pay was. It was acceptable at the time because my expenses were low, but after I left and got other jobs at $35, $45, and $60/hr I have to disagree that $35 is too much. That said, the asker will probably want to move on soon. Being irreplaceable is not a good career move. – Draco18s Mar 19 at 13:57
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    Your boss may very well be offended by you asking that big of a raise don't think like this. A salary is a business arrangement - nobody will get offended if you overshoot what they're willing to pay, they'll just say no and counter-offer. Sure, if you overshoot ridiculously they may conclude you're naive/unreasonable and choose to withdraw the offer based on that, but offended they won't be. Again, business arrangement, not a favour between friends. – davnicwil Mar 19 at 16:26
36

This is dependent on location etc but $25 an hour for a software engineering job is fairly low pay. Typically I would raise my eyebrows at a 40% raise request but it seems like you're significantly underpaid anyway?

Without knowing more about your specific role, it's hard to know what's reasonable.

26

You are being hired back because your employer needs some work done and the pressure of the work is greater than the loss-of-face from firing you and asking you to come back after one week.

This isn't a stable situation. You could very well be let go again as soon as the immediate issues from the workload drops off.

The best thing you can do, if you're truly willing to go back, is to ask for a higher rate, help your employer finish whatever needs to be finished and then move on to another job in a relatively short term. It is probably better to be upfront about the fact that you're going to leave again when it is time for you to move. Your coworkers are more likely maintain morale if you receive a higher rate for a temporary position.

As far as rate is concerned, $35 seems too low if you are being clear about leaving in a short time. You can make it much higher if you and your employer see it as a short-term consulting gig. $80-ish seems like the absolute low end for software engineering consulting rate.

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    You (the asker) may even want to go into negotiations under this assumption, eg. "I'll come back as a freelance contractor" with a specified duration or project completion termination clause. And then ask for contractor rates (50% to 100% higher than full time pay, due to the fact that contractors spend about half their time looking for work). That works out to $52 to $70/hr. – Draco18s Mar 19 at 14:05
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    This! It is probably better to be upfront about the fact that you're going to leave again Answers that do not address that are not complete. I would actually combine it with what's mentioned in gnasher729's answer: do it as a contractor. – Jan Doggen Mar 19 at 14:42
17

You already have many answers suggesting how to negotiate the paycheck, but I'd like to analyze this from a different angle / viewpoint.

Let's start with some self-criticizing: You were late to office, more than once. You did not mention whether you were warned and chose to ignore, or, they took the drastic action at one shot, without allowing you a chance to rectify yourself but either way, you violated some rules. Whether they are worthy of being fired or not, is a different topic.

Let's see you boss's position:

  • He fired you without a plan
  • Even after firing you he is not able to search for a replacement to fill the gap.
  • He does not have faith on the existing workforce to take up the job
  • He never had a backup plan.

Does not sound like a boss with whom I'd like to work (read as, waste my time).

Question you should ask yourself: Do you really want to go back?

Given the picture you painted here, I'd not think of going back, even if I'm getting a raise. Try luck elsewhere, not only the raise, the overall work environment must be better, for anyone to do quality work.


With all odd scenarios, if you chose to go back, you need to ensure that all of the below points are addressed, not only the salary:

  • I'd say, ask for 33% raise. (No specific reason for that number, it's just a trade-off between being properly compensated and sounding absurd).
  • Ask that the "flex-time allowance" your boss offered is part of the written contract.

P.S. - Remember one thing (and sorry for repeating this, can't help myself), you boss wants you back not because he "believes" in you, but because he "needs" you at this moment. Even if you choose to go back, don't get comfortable there, you never know what more "surprises" may be waiting for you.

  • 3
    I like your answer, but I would modify it just a tiny bit. I would go back and at my old rate in as friendly a fashion as possible. But I would spend absolutely all of my spare time looking for another job asap. You are correct - this person will be let go at the earliest possible opportunity as soon as the boss is out of hot water. Knowing that, protect yourself and start looking now. I'm a firm believer in the "monkey bars" rule of employment. Do not let go of one until you have a firm grasp on the next one. – BoredBsee Mar 19 at 14:58
11

You Aren't Asking For A Raise

He fired you. Your employment there is over. This isn't about giving you a raise; you currently make $0.00/hour because you do not work there anymore.

Treat This As A New Salary Negotiation

The wrong way to approach any salary negotiation is by starting with what you made at your previous job. Your former salary is a historical fact that bears very little correspondence to what the current market demand and supply for your skill set is.

If he wants you to come back, he should pay you a competitive rate, the same as any other potential employer (which you should still be looking for). The competitive rate is very unlikely to be $25/hr or less unless there is something about your skill set or local labor market we don't know.

Your Former Bosses Feelings Are Not Your Problem

He might balk at a higher rate. He might act offended. He might feel any number of things. He had no plan to deal with your absence after firing you. All of these things may be true, but none of these things are your problem. They stopped being your problem when your boss ended your employment there.

Your problem is you have no job, you need a job, and it's only fair that you be paid the market rate.

Accept nothing less, especially in the current job market that demands your skills at prices well in excess of $25/hr.

9

You have been fired already, so you can assume your boss will do his best to get rid of you permanently, so you do need an incentive to return to that situation.

I'd start with "if I'm coming back, we'll also have to look at the salary. £25 an hour seems rather low to me" and see how it goes from there.

The alternative is that you are re-hired as a contractor, maybe at £400 a day, and you can leave / be fired any day.

  • Aren't contractors employed on fixed-term contracts usually – i.e. 3 months, 6 months? Meaning you can't leave before the fixed-term ends? – ᆼᆺᆼ Mar 19 at 19:31
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    @ııı sometimes. But other times they are hired on indefinite contracts, and then are the first to be let go when work or budget dries up. – stannius Mar 19 at 21:16
6

I think the other answers are very kind to you now ex-boss. He took a very bad decision by firing you, so bad that it only took 1 week for it to have an impact on productivity. Now he wants to negotiate something but is basically not in a good position for this. Indeed, unless you really need that specific job and he knows it, he's basically asking you a favor by coming back. And doing a favor to a guy that fired you 1 week ago should be rewarded.

Now about the "reward": allowing you to arrive after 9 is not a reward for coming back, it's basically some kind of reward (a bit of freedom) for being a good performer1; the kind of which you beg for them to come back. So some kind of raise for him to show you his appreciation of you coming back would definitely be fair. I wouldn't ask for a specific amount though, let him start the real negotiation around the lines:

I understand you realized you made a huge mistake. That's fine, mistakes happen. But they come with a price to pay. I won't come back without a reasonable raise in my salary and will be waiting for you to come with a reasonable proposition.

English is not my main language and I tend to be very direct anyway, so you might want to be less blunt than that, but you get the idea...

He may be offended, he may take it bad, but in the end he was the one not hesitating to fire you over some late arrivals and despite your obviously good work, there's no need to be nice to a person like that, business is business.

NOTES:

1 I don't consider this good management, rules should be independant from performance, but it happens more than often and obviously your boss is considering it that way as he presents it as an incentive for you to come back. I actually think having flexible-but-not-too-much hours when it's absolutely not needed is also bad management. But it's not the point of this question or my answer.

  • 5
    it's basically some kind of reward (a bit of freedom) for being a good performer; - that mentality killed a lot of team spirit!! In a team, rules are same for all, irrespective of the performance level. Better performance is remunerated in paychecks, not by adding exception to the team rules or ethics, – Sourav Ghosh Mar 19 at 12:51
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    I agree with the general thrust of this answer, but the suggested wording is too blunt, in my opinion. I would couch it as "I was underpaid before, and that would have to change for me to come back". – Jim Clay Mar 19 at 12:53
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    @SouravGhosh clearly those rules are not fit for purpose, as a good performer (the OP) was getting in "late". Software developers tend not to need to be in the office for the same hours as other more traditional office roles in order to be effective at their work. Perhaps the manager is only just realizing this. In my experience the poorest technology managers focus only on your appearance and time-keeping because they don't actually understand the domain of their workers. – Captain Lepton Mar 19 at 14:13
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    @SouravGhosh A better way to put it is "Get your work done on time and we'll have no problems". The truth is, performance in the role without causing organisational problems is all that matters here. In this role, having your butt in a seat a little later than usual won't usually cause problems unless meetings/client calls are being missed, so unless there is a performance issue, there is nothing here worth fixing. – 520 Mar 19 at 15:04
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    I would not say "But they come with a price to pay"; it sounds too much like a threat. We live in a world with too many threats already, so I'd leave that part out. To be honest, no matter how bad the situation I'd be inclined to say "Never mind, I made the right decision after all" if I were the boss and someone said that to me. – bob Mar 19 at 15:47
3

Nobody mentioned this so I thought I might put my 2 cents in: How's this move gonna look on your resume?

A bigger salary now can be leverage for a better salary after you move.

But if the scenario is one of full disclosure, it could backfire: Being fired and rehired in that short amount of time, with or without raise, sounds sketchy. An HR could smell this as foul play from your part.

I don't know how common that is, but an employee that manages to makes him/herself that critical for operation is both quite an asset and probably a head-ache down the road.

If I were in your shoes I'd be sure to make clear that my sheet in HR states I was never fired.

My best

  • " I'd be sure to make clear that my sheet in HR states I was never fired" Definitely. Make sure you are "resuming" your employment with all length-of-service benefits .... but with a pay raise. – Dragonel Mar 19 at 18:41
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    My cv (admittedly compressed to show 30+ years of work history) only shows months of employment. If I left and came back without a whole month elapsing it wouldn't show as different jobs. – Rupert Morrish Mar 19 at 21:55
2

In my mind, what happened here is something along the lines that something urgent came up from customer and manager got a cold shower realization that "Shit! No one else on this team can do it."

Based on this guess, I would say you should treat it as you are paramount to the employer at least short term.

Demand at least the double of what you had. If a manager fired you, then you know they will likely try to get rid of you whenever they are confident they can replace you. This should definitely reflect in your pay.

1

Firing you was an incredibly short-sighted decision. Are you confident that re-hiring you is not?


If you enjoyed the work overall and aren't pressed for money then ask for a minimum of 30% more than you were making in order to come back; make sure to cite the market rate.

While you work make sure to continue job-hunting and good luck!

0

Disclaimer: IRL, I'm an extremely vengeful person. My boss would not want to do this to me, I would make it my personal mission to make their life as hellish as I could possibly think to do if I was in your shoes. That said, here is what I believe to be a reasonable middle ground between what I would actually do and what I think you should do.

The bottom line for all of the following is that they are recruiting you, not the other way around. You did not apply to this position, and you have no vested interest in getting it; as you said, you're moving in a few months so you don't care. That being the case, you are in a position of power here; you can always say "no" and then let your former boss take the ramifications of whatever that means for him; whatever those ramifications are are neither your business nor your concern, and if your boss doesn't want those ramifications to happen to him, then he'll have to do what you say.

Regarding pay: $25/hr is really really low for a software engineer. That works out to about $200/day (8 hrs/day), or about $1000/wk, or about $52k/yr (rough napkin math). That's really really bad pay unless you live in the middle of nowhere and are happy with that. What I would do is I would look at the market rate for a software engineer in your locale and ask for that as your salary. In my locale, being Toronto, Canada, the going rate is around $75k (Canadian dollars) for a junior developer. Given that your boss is trying to re-hire you, you are probably significantly above this level. Even if your skill level is not significantly above this level, you should charge them an additional fee on top of the "reasonable" salary level for your locale, because you have the power in the negotiation. If this was my locale, I would ask for $100k/yr (roughly $50/hr). A 100% raise sounds like a lot, but realistically speaking, you're being paid 66% of market rate (relative to my locale, I don't know about yours); against market rate you're only asking a 30% raise, and that's assuming you're a junior new grad (which I presume you're not). It sounds like a lot, but it's completely reasonable imo.

Regarding benefits: Have it written into your contract that you can come to work anytime before 10am. You don't want to have the same situation as before. Aim for 9:30, but if stuff happens, then you'll arrive at 10 without a problem. Also ensure that you get all employee benefits from day 1, whatever that means for your locale. For example, some companies don't give their employees access to company health insurance until 3 months into the job ("probation period"); make sure this isn't you. You worked for them previously, and they don't get to reneg on their employee benefits for 3 months (or whatever the standard period is for this stuff in your locale) by "firing and then re-hiring" you. Speaking of a probation period, ensure there isn't one. If you don't live in an at-will employment district (US terminology, basically means the employer can fire you at any time for any reason), you should have it written into your contract that the standard termination policy applies from day one. Once again, they don't get to game you.

I would consider pushing for a non-refundable signing bonus. They have already proven to be untrustworthy by firing you once; you want them to have an incentive to not jerk you around again by hiring you and then immediately firing you again. One way you can do this is by leveraging a large signing bonus against your salary ask. For example, if your salary ask is $100k/yr (see above), you can do something like, ask for a $95k/yr salary and a non-refundable signing bonus of $10k paid upon signing of the contract. In this case, this provides an incentive for them to keep you for at least 2 years; after 2 years you have made "an average" of $100k/yr, and then every subsequent year you average less than they otherwise would have paid you (assuming you don't get a raise, which is hopefully not the case, but worst-case this is what it would mean). To take the opposite extreme, if you walk into work and immediately they tell you to go home and not come back, you've spent about 30 minutes and gotten paid $10k, which is $20,000/hr! That's some pretty good salary!

Regarding moving: Don't say anything. Just do it. However, if you are moving, you don't have a job in that locale, meaning for all intents and purposes, you are still "unemployed". I don't know the details (I am not HR), but I don't think the usual strategy of being more attractive due to current employment applies to your situation.

  • I wouldn't call them untrustworthy for firing someone that doesnt show on time. For them he is untrustworthy. – Mandrill Mar 19 at 21:34
  • Well done for including the disclaimer. Unfortunately or fortunately, it dissuaded me from reading the rest of this long answer, but I appreciate the transparency. – Wildcard Mar 19 at 21:52

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